LAKESIDE, Calif. — Greg Troughton used his entire day wisely, but the pro from Discovery Bay, Calif. needed less than an hour to sack up the 17.39-pound limit that leads Day 1 of the APEX Cup on El Capitan Reservoir presented by DISH and Accell Marketing Inc.
“El Capitan is a small lake (1,562 acres) and I blasted off in the 19th position, so I ran up to where the San Diego River came in and I started on the first point I could get on because everything else was taken,” Troughton said. “I started in the right place because there were fish busting and bait everywhere — you would think you could get bit immediately, but in the first 15-20 minutes, I didn’t.”
Not allowing the cold reception to stymie his effort, Troughton evaluated what he was seeing and calculated the necessary changes.
“I made a little adjustment and started catching fish,” Troughton said. “These fish wanted a silent bait. They’re dirt shallow; I caught most of them in a foot of water.
“I made another little adjustment and then I made one move and caught two big fish (including a 6.46). I was done by 6:45.”
Noting that his area had a steep, rocky edge with grass, Troughton said he caught all of his fish on two distinctly different baits. Keeping his details understandably minimal, Troughton said he believes he was doing something unique and that was the difference maker.
“I had to make long casts because the water is very clear,” Troughton said. “I was using Dobyns Rods and Shimano reels with 15-pound Seaguar Tatsu fluorocarbon and 65-pound Seaguar braid. I use the best equipment I can. It makes a difference in your presentations.”
Looking ahead to Day 2, Troughton believes that, with the lake closed on Wednesday and Thursday, the lack of recent fishing pressure should keep the fish in a cooperative state. With plenty of bait in his area, Troughton’s expecting replenishment; but if not, he’s prepared.
“Since I caught my fish early, I ran the entire lake and looked for similar areas,” he said. I found several spots that had the same mix of (habitat features.)”
Joey Skym of Brentwood, Calif. is in second place in the Total Weight standings with 16.85 pounds. Fishing the mid lake region, he rotated among three different points and took advantage of an early shallow bite, before progressing to deeper action.
Securing his limit by about 8 a.m., Skym started his day with a big bite at 7:30 and ended with another one at 2:30.
“I targeted the shad spawn early and caught fish on a white Pro-Z Frog,” Skym said. “You’d see the shad and throw in there and get bit. Later, I threw a 1/4-ounce Cool Bait underspin with a 2.8 Keitech Swing Impact Fat.
“I was using Garmin LiveTarget to find the bait balls,” Skym said. “You’d throw the underspin into them and get bit.”
Rounding out the top-5 were Christian Ostrander with 16.58, Matthew Nadeau with 14.97 and Nick Salvucci with 14.19.
Joe Uribe of Surprise, Ariz. and Thomas Kanemoto of Elk Grove, Calif. are tied for the lead in the the Most Scorable Bass standings with 14 each.
Uribe did all of his work in the lake’s upper end where he hit five spots of similar grass-related composition. Rotating among these spots kept him on a fresh bite.
“The morning bite was better at low light,” Uribe said. “The fish are are primarily on bait, so they’re moving up and down. They’re out suspended, they’re up shallow in the grass, they’re all over the place. It’s really just timing and making a lot of casts.”
Uribe said the day’s breeze helped his reaction bite. He had his limit by 8:15 and continued to pick off scorable fish throughout the day.
“Tomorrow, I’m going to go for numbers, to qualify for the final round,” Uribe said. “I’ll try to get my limit early and then try to catch a scorable bass every 30 minutes.”
Kanemoto referenced his pre-tournament study and stayed close to the launch ramp. Spending his day in a small, round cove, he leveraged the shad spawn — just not directly.
“The wolf packs of bass would push the shad to the surface, but it was incredibly hard to catch these fish because there was so much bait in the area,” Kanemoto said. “I knew the shad spawn would keep a lot of fish in the area, so I fished out where I saw fish busting in 25 feet.”
Throwing a finesse bait, Kanemoto used his Lowrance ActiveTarget to spot large groups of fish lower in the water column. Lining up the perfect cast on these highly competitive fish was the key to getting bit.
“I could see groups of five fish but I wouldn’t even cast at them,” Kanemoto said. “I’d have to see a large group of them and they had to be about 50 feet from the boat to make it worth a cast. They had to be grouped up so they were fighting over (the bait.)”
“Without my ActiveTarget, I would not have been able to target those fish. It took me all day to catch my fish. I had my first one at 8 a.m. and my last one at 2:48.”
Rounding out the top-5 were Scott Hellesen with 11 scorable bass, Tony Franceschi with 11 and Ostrander with 10.
After two days of full-field competition, the top-10 anglers advance to Sunday’s Championship round. The final field will comprise the top-5 anglers with the Most Keepers and the top-5 anglers with the highest Total Weight. Total days weight and keeper count from days 1 and 2 areaccumulated. In the final round, weights and keeper count are zeroed.